Friday, July 29, 2011

Thrifty Acres - found in the front yard

Hello! Old-house dwellers such as myself are used to coming across bits of the past while doing outdoor work. I've found pieces of broken pottery so pretty that I mourned over their breakage, nails with square heads, sections of old bricks and chunks of coal. 

My most intriguing outdoor find, however, came after a spring rain several years ago. I was checking out the blooming progress of the primroses in the front yard when I spied a penny sticking out of the moist soil. Hey, a penny saved is a penny earned, so I bent down to pick up the loose coin. 

A quick glance showed me that it was an old penny, so I took it inside to wipe the mud off to determine its date. This is what I found:

To my astonishment, the penny was from 1879! Given that our house was built around 1905 or so, this coin predates the house by several years.

Here's the back of said coin:

I couldn't help but wonder who had dropped this penny many years ago - someone working on building the house or the lady of the house picking some flowers in the front yard? And what took it so long to make its appearance known?

My husband is a coin collector, so he was able to estimate that my penny is worth about $3.00. Not bad considering its original value! I keep it as a lucky piece of sorts. I always hope to find another old coin in our yard, but haven't yet. Still, I'm pleased to have found something of that vintage.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Beat the heat in South Haven

Hello! Like many other parts of the country, we've been very hot all week. Besides going to our local beaches, another way to beat the heat around here is to visit one of the many lakeshore towns in the region, and that's what our daughter and I did yesterday. 

We headed down to South Haven, where our first stop was the ever-popular:

 Great ice cream! I first learned of Sherman's Dairy Bar in 1979, while working at a nearby resort that summer. My co-workers and I sometimes went there three times a week (by the time we got out of work most nights, there wasn't much else open; South Haven was a rather sleepy town back then). 

The lettering of the menu boards looks much the same as I remember from 1979:

Of course, prices have changed, but the sundaes are worth the splurge. I can personally vouch for the hokey pokey, which is their version of a turtle sundae. Another sign on the premises explained that the "Tour of Sherman's" is a sampler of six of Sherman's ice cream flavors of the customer's choosing - actual tour of Sherman's not included, unfortunately. 

Sherman's sells their ice cream in cartons to go, and a sign trumpeted the fact that they still sell true half gallons, not cartons that look that size but actually contain less. 

After our stop at Sherman's Dairy Bar, we continued on into downtown South Haven. At the very end of the main downtown street, you will see the above - a walkway that leads down to Lake Michigan, with the South Pier lighthouse at the very end of the pier. From this vantage point, we were cooled off by a very refreshing lake breeze.

Instead of looking ahead toward the lake, I turned to my right to take the above photo - it's a marina along the Black River, which flows into the lake. 

The Black River lends its name to a great used bookstore a block away. It was well air-conditioned, had plenty of comfy chairs for browsing, and had lots of books to look through - what could be better? Although prices are higher than for thrift store books, sometimes I'll buy something at a used bookstore because I hadn't been able to find the volume at a thrift store. Yesterday was no exception; I bought two books and our daughter bought one. 

For a short while, I left my daughter alone to browse at the bookstore (she's old enough for me to do so) and went a couple of blocks away to Murphy's Mall, a terrific antique mall. I drooled over the displays; seemed like I saw something I wanted in most of the booths. The prices at Murphy's always seem good, but I resisted the urge to buy anything. 

As I'd said, South Haven was more low-key in 1979; the downtown seems more chic now. Like the downtown where I live, there are now art galleries, an olive oil store, trendy restaurants, housewares for cottages and more. Yet here and there are businesses that clearly have been around for decades, so there's a bit of the blending of the old and the new. 

I returned home feeling I'd come back from a mini-vacation, yet the preponderance of out-of-state license plates (especially from Illinois) reminded me that South Haven and the other lakeshore towns in my region are, indeed, summer vacation destinations for thousands. Those folks have to travel around two hours or more to reach our area, while we can reach South Haven in about a half hour!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thrifty Acres - garden decor on the cheap

Hello! What with buying vegetable seeds, potting soil, peat pots, grow lights,annuals and perennials, the gardening budget can be spent rather quickly on these items. And decorative items for the outdoor areas of one's property can be even more expensive! But have no fear, there are places to shop that will save the thrifty gardener some money: thrift stores and garage sales, of course!

All of the items shown in the following photos cost $3.00 or less - sometimes far less:

This "mushroom" was actually the handle of an old jumprope, 25c at a church rummage sale.

 This sun plaque makes me smile every time I see it; $2.00 thrift store find. 

Glass vase, $2.00 at thrift store, copper wire was 10c at a garage sale, and glass flat marbles were bought years ago at American Science & Surplus.

Vintage Gettyburg souvenir plate, 10c at a garage sale run by an antiques dealer who wanted to make room in her storage unit. I ended up buying several plates, and at a dime each they were an excellent price! I use these plates as an edging of sorts.

Painted wooden plaques, picked up at thrift stores for between 50c and $1.00.

 Fish platter from thrift store, $2.00. I accidentally left it out over the winter (it was hung on the back of the garage, where I couldn't see it from the house), but it survived just fine.

Plaque, 50c, decorative plate $2.00; both from thrift stores.

Handmade mosaic tile, 50c at thrift store. I loved the colors. 

 Vintage garden hand tool, 25c at garage sale.

 Decorative plate, 50c at the same sale where I picked up the vintage souvenir plates. That antiques dealer is still in business but hasn't had a garage sale in a couple of years - bummer!

 Decorative garden stake, 25c at church rummage sale. Nothing like buying garden-related items in November!

 Handmade Uncle Sam wallhanging, $3.00 thrift store purchase. 

Strawberry pot, $2.00 at thrift store. The dill seed I'd sowed never came up, so I'll have to find something else to put in it.

 Shepherd's hook with dangly dragonfly; $5.00 for both at estate sale. The man running it was the brother of the woman who had lived there and had died the month before the sale. In spite of his recent loss and his obvious love of his sibling, he was very genial and accepting of her untimely death. Thus, I get a good feeling every time I look at this purchase. Bonus: he had a really cool "ghost story" about her as well - he sincerely felt he'd gotten an obvious message of love from her after her death, and who am I to doubt him?

Well, that's it for my collection of thrifty garden decor, but I'm always on the lookout for more!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Get carded - summer birthday parties

Hello! There's been a run on family birthday parties this week, so I've been busy making cards for this occasion, such as:

White cardstock

Red cardstock circle

Printed game card from a vintage football game

"For You" stamped with azure StazOn ink on white cardstock scrap

Thin light blue crochet thread for accent

I thought the vintage football game piece was fitting since the birthday boy participates in a fantasy football league.

White cardstock

Paint chip sample (from a huge set purchased at Learning From Scratch)

Scrap from vintage dictionary page

Beige art paper scrap

Reproduction of vintage image of dog, from a recent thrift shop purchase - a Dover book of vintage animal images; paid 50c for the book. The original price tag of $4.95 was still on the back.

Vintage black snap affixed near top of card

"doggone it" stamped in black StazOn ink. I'd recently gotten this set of alphabet letter stamps in the dollar bin at Michael's.

The card above was made with some of the same materials:

White cardstock
Paint chip sample

Corrugated cardboard piece
Leopard-print scrapbook paper

Beige cardstock

Reproduction vintage leopard image from the Dover book mentioned above

Leopard-print earring from garage sale

"16" vintage bingo piece - the age of a special person today!

A Day at the Beach

Hello! Where I live, summer means days at the beach, weather and water temperature permitting. It's taken forever for the "Big Lake", as folks around here call it, to warm up, but finally it's beach time.

A visit to the beach has the usual shots:

 And boaters. But at this particular beach, we have to work at getting to and fro. You'll see what I mean in the remaining series of shots in this post!

 See all the steps leading back to the beach? This is after climbing only about a third of the way back to the parking lot.

This is about half of the way up.

A few more steps up...

The beach is looking rather distant at this point!

 At the top! There's some 250 steps to the top - and almost as many on the way down (thus, there's the same up and down coming to or leaving the beach). A huge sand dune, part of which has covered up some steps in the above photo, is the reason for the climb. 

It's worth the climb, though - in part because this is one of the least-crowded public beaches in the area. 

All in all, not a bad place to spend a hot summer day, especially since it's only about seven miles from where we live. But lest you envy me too much for living so close to a nice sandy beach, let me remind you that we pay for this proximity in the winter in the form of lake effect snowstorms that help to give us seasonal snowfall totals of 100" or more!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Get carded - various occasions

Hello! Although I hadn't shown off any greeting cards in awhile, that doesn't mean that I haven't made any lately! So now I'll let you see what I'd crafted over the past few weeks:

For Father's Day, of course. Can you guess what my dad's favorite color is? If you said "green" you'd be correct! So here we have:

white cardstock

dark green art paper

DAD letters (actually meant to be used to label mailboxes with last names; a thrift store find) stamped with forest green StazOn ink

"Happy Father's Day" stamped with black StazOn ink.

I'm pleased to report that my dad liked his card a lot! He tells me often that I should sell them.

The above card was sent to an out-of-state acquaintance. For this one, I used:

white cardstock

off-white art paper piece

vintage holy card, a thrift store find. It's over 100 years old and appears to have been made to keep track of attendance for a church function, perhaps Sunday school. Very pretty picture, and as the card recipient is quite devout in her faith, I figure she'd appreciate it. 

Dark green art paper scrap

"Hello" stamped on white cardstock scrap with black StazOn ink

Last card on this post is shown above; it was a very kind lady's birthday and I always try to make special cards for her. 

white cardstock

patterned cardstock

lacy-look cream-colored art paper scrap

vintage button card, sans buttons

"Happy Birthday" stamped on cardstock with red StazOn ink, edged with same ink color

Vintage button

My friend seemed pleased with her card! Several years ago, our budding friendship was cemented in part by a greeting card - she had unexpectedly shown me a favor, so I made a simple but pretty thank you card for her. I always say when in doubt, give a thank you card - it will always be appreciated, I think! Because I had done so with her, she wanted to get to know me better. 

Thrifty Acres - sort-of vintage crafts

Hello! Older craft kits and supplies will often show up at thrift stores, and this past week was no exception when I made a quick stop at our local Salvation Army.

By "sort-of vintage" in this post's title, I mean crafts which are old enough to be interesting - but really aren't super old. For instance, check out one example below:

These are Meyercord brand decals; I paid 99c for the set of three. These are probably from the 70's. The photos on the backs of the packages show the decals placed on bottles, trays, candles, glass jars, high chairs and on and on. "Easy to remove with Magic Decal Remover" - in case one is tired of looking at a particular decal, I suppose. Do I have a use in mind? Yes, I do - as the packages also show rocks with decals on them, I will try that. It'll be a lot quicker than the flower painting on a rock I did awhile back!

The next set of crafts are older:

The two Advance brand Barbie doll clothes patterns are dated 1961. I couldn't find a date for the Simplicity doll clothes pattern but I think it's from around the same time. I paid 99c apiece for each pattern, which I didn't think was too bad for something like this that's already 50 years old. I don't know if the pattern sets are complete, as all have been cut, but I took a chance on them anyway, as I like the look of the vintage styles. 

Will I try sewing these? Perhaps. The one and only time I tried sewing Barbie doll clothes, it nearly drove me to drink! I found the small scale of the pieces difficult to work with, but maybe I'll give these a try. The Advance patterns appear to be written for the beginning sewer, so maybe there's hope for me (I'm more or less just a step or two up from the beginner level!)

These patterns were in a large box of many patterns of the same era, which of course I dug through just to see what was in there. I noted doll clothes patterns for other types of dolls, but as I wasn't familiar with the dolls mentioned, I passed these up. But there were patterns for women as well, and I studied these with interest. Very elegant clothes indeed! One dress pattern looked easy and I thought it'd be cool to make a vintage-style garment, but unfortunately it wasn't in my size.

But my finds show again that you never know what the result of a thrift store visit will be!